Webinar E-mails: A Roadmap for Success

Based on the questions I received from my last column about driving Webinar registrations via e-mail, I can see there’s a lot of confusion out there.

So I’ve asked Amy Bills from Bulldog Solutions to provide more direction as a follow-up to the information she so generously offered last time — with more specifics about benchmarks, Webinar promotion vehicles, schedules, and attracting potential attendees.

Follow her well-troden path to Webinar marketing to avoid a lot of costly pitfalls and detours.

Take it away, Amy…

“Promoting a lead-generation Webinar is a huge pain point for marketers. First of all, it’s often an area in which a significant amount of money is spent. If you do a media buy to promote your Webinar, you can spend $5,000, $15,000, even more. So people want to get it right. They don’t want to be the ones who wasted $15,000 of their marketing budget.

Registration and attendance are among the easiest metrics to identify and understand. So there’s a lot of focus on them from the top. Even at Bulldog Solutions, where we spend a lot of time looking deep into our sales pipeline, I can bet the first question my CEO is going to ask the morning before a Webinar is, “How many people registered?”

Obviously, we get a lot of questions about promotion, from how to get people to sign up for your event to how to ensure they actually attend (if it’s a live Webinar).

Here are a couple questions that pop up a lot.

What’s the average rate of registration I should expect?
This may be our #1 question. People want to know what benchmarks to compare themselves to. On a very broad level, you can expect .25 percent to 1 percent of those you invite to register for a live Webinar; and 30 percent to 50 percent of those who register to attend the live event.

But I want to stress, there is variation in there. It depends on what industry you’re in, the specific initiative (are you doing a live Webinar or a pre-recorded one?), and your target audience. If you really want to compare yourself to meaningful benchmarks (and not set yourself up for failure) you need information that’s industry-specific. Bulldog actually has a series of benchmarks for online lead-generation called the Bulldog Index. We use that to help our clients set expectations for registration and attendance.”

How should we promote our Webinar?
“There are a lot of choices out there-direct e-mail, printed mail, newsletters, Web banners, or Web 2.0 options such as blogs. For most of our clients we like to put together a comprehensive approach to promotion. This begins with identifying qualified e-mail databases to which you want to communicate.

Other forms of online promotion also play a role in getting people to register. If you’re already advertising online, you can promote Webinars that way. Include a link to registration on the Web site, in e-mail, and anywhere else you may reach potential leads. Do you have a newsletter or white papers? Are you active in trade associations? Those are all sources of promotional muscle.

Where can we find databases of potential attendees?
Depending on your expectations for registration and the target audience, we may recommend an external media buy. If so, we work with a range of media partners who can bring not only e-mail databases, but editorial guidance to the table. They know what their readers respond to and they can help tailor your message to drive high response.

But it’s not always about a media buy. If you have internal databases, it certainly makes sense to use them. And it’s also worth looking at ways to build your database so you can become your own best “media buy.” We’ve done that very successfully here with our own newsletter. You can also look to promotion and content partners who might have databases of relevant prospects.

How much time should we leave before the first invitation and the live event?
Aim to begin promoting a Webinar two to three weeks before the live event day. Long lag times between registration and the live event can cause some drop-off in attendance.

We’ve actually had some successful promotions done just a few days before the live event, but I wouldn’t recommend setting an entire schedule up on such a tight timeframe. You want to leave time to react mid-campaign as you promote; perhaps changing a subject line after an initial promotion if it doesn’t generate the registrations you’d expected.

How many times should we communicate with registrants before the live event?
We certainly recommend ongoing communications to registrants once they’ve signed up. This keeps them engaged. It’s not just about sending a simple reminder. Use these opportunities to give them additional information about the topic, and even to open up a channel for dialogue about your solution.

Let’s use the example of a promotion that begins three weeks before the live event. We recommend:

  • An immediate confirmation e-mail, with access information.
  • One to two reminders, a few days to a week after registration, and a week before the live event. These can have some variety — they don’t have to be the same thing over and over. For example, maybe one is a personalized video e-mail from the speaker asking the registrant to submit questions early.
  • A log-in instructions e-mail the day of the Webinar. This puts the event and access information right in their inbox the day they need it.

Plus, of course, you must send follow-ups after the Webinar. That’s a whole separate topic!

Thanks again, Amy, for sharing a roadmap for Webinar success.

How are you using e-mail to promote your Webinars? Podcasts? Social media efforts? Share your B2B case studies and best practices with Karen.

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